Summer Watering

While we have been enjoying the beautiful summer weather, our landscapes may not be too happy about all the recent and upcoming heat. In addition, we haven’t seen any significant rain in the last few weeks. Our plants and turf are thirsty!

Lawn Turf or Grass needs 1 - 2" of water per week.

Supplemental watering in the warmer months, especially in the absence of rain, is extremely important to the health of our plants and lawn. Much like our human bodies, plants including grass need to stay hydrated to remain healthy. A healthy lawn will have something of a shiny look to it. A lawn in need of water will have a duller green color to it, or may even turn brown. 

Your lawn needs 1 – 2 inches of water each week to remain healthy, especially lawns in sunny areas. Watering in the early morning is best. This allows the grass blades to dry, limiting the possibility of disease issues, as well as reducing the effects of evaporation. Depending on soil type and personal preference, some people choose to water lightly every day while others water deeply every other day.

Your favorite Trees, Shrubs and Perennials need regular watering, too.

We can easily see the effects of drought on the lawn by the browning of the grass, but plants have more subtle ways of telling you they need water. A few signs to look for might be:

  • Wilting or yellowing leaves
  • Drooping shoots on conifers
  • Leaf scorch or browning
  • Leaf rolling or curling
  • Leaf shed or early fall color change

If you see any of these symptoms happening in your gardens, your plants are letting you know they need some water.

Generally, trees and shrubs that are 3 or more seasons old can handle a typical drought, but newer plantings – those less than 3 seasons old – will need some extra attention as irrigation is very important to them in getting established in their new area. A deep watering is best, rather than relying on just what they receive when you sprinkle the lawn.

What is the best way to deep water your tree or shrub? There are actually a couple of options, depending on the size of the tree or shrub. The easiest is to use a soaker hose around it, at the drip line. Today’s soaker hoses have become much more convenient with attached timers! This is perfect for those of us who want to “set it and forget it.” You can set the timer in the morning as you leave for work and the timer will shut the hose off after the selected amount of time. You can also place a hose at the base and turn it on a light trickle. In either case, let the water run until the ground is saturated but not a puddle. 

When it comes to perennials, watering at least once a week for new plantings is recommended…twice a week in excessive heat (over 85 degrees and humid). It is best to do this in the morning or evening, avoiding the heat of the day. Be sure to water plants at the base, not the foliage. Wet foliage, especially in hot, humid weather, can lead to disease issues like black spot or powdery mildew. When possible, always soak the area around the root zone. Remember that mulching around plants will also help keep moisture in the soil.

Don’t forget your Hanging Baskets, Containers and Planters!

We often forget that our above-ground containers, planters and hanging baskets need even more attention when it comes to watering. Since they are above ground, they can dry out more quickly, especially during the warmer months.

Watering your hanging baskets, containers and planters daily is recommended. If the weather is excessively warm, you may need to water twice a day.

Remember to feed your plants!

With extra watering, it is extremely important to feed your plants a little more frequently. Water, important to keeping your plants hydrated, can also push nutrients your plants need through the soil and beyond the roots. The more you water, the faster that happens. Be sure to supplement those nutrients with high quality, slow release fertilizer monthly or a quick release liquid fertilizer can be used weekly.

What do you do if you are going on vacation?

No one wants to come home from vacation to dead or dying plants. If you are going to be away during the summer months, you don’t have to rely on neighbors to keep your plants watered. 

Products like Soil Moist and Plant Keeper can help the soil in your hanging baskets, containers and planters retain water for longer periods. 

Tree Bags are an option for your trees. These wrap around the base of your tree and can be filled with up to 15 gallons of water. The water is released only when the soil is dry enough to draw the water out. No worries about over-watering if it rains while you’re gone!

For perennials and other landscape plants, 2” of mulch, a soaker hose and a timer can make a big difference. As you leave, set the timer on the soaker hose and let it run for an hour or two. The water will seep into the soil and the mulch will help the soil retain moisture for a number of days.

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